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[caption id="attachment_28789" align="alignleft" width="108" caption="Jim Mahoney"][/caption]

These days business is all about optimization.  Thriving and even surviving always comes down to efficient use of your resources.  Usually, the most expensive component of daily operations is people.  Regardless, in every business people are the most important factor.  As we start a new year it’s worth thinking about how you’re using this vital resource today and how you see yourself doing it in the future.

In business as well as the rest of life, it’s often not about what you do but how you do it.  How you deploy your people and the resources that support them will impact what your bottom line looks like in a year from now and into your future.

As you look at your staffing situation, chances are your current employees have been carrying a heavy load for the past couple of years.  There’s also a good chance non-essential work has piled up in corners waiting for that extra few hours that you know will never arrive.

Naturally, as a staffing agency, we’re big fans of using agencies to leverage your time and dollars as well as manage your risk.  Smart use of an agency can maximize your efficiency as you start the new year.

What does “smart use” mean?  Before you pick up the phone or jump to a keyboard to begin your search for new temporary or permanent employees, take a few minutes to think about what you’re asking for and what you can expect once you’ve asked for it.

If you’re going in with both feet and posting an ad for a full-time receptionist, clerk or admin person, are you ready for the avalanche of resumes that will be sure to follow? Do you have a way to efficiently source and sort for qualities you’re looking for?

You probably have more important things for your HR department to do than numbing their minds sifting through hundreds of often-irrelevant resumes.

Obviously the best way to beat the uncertainty of hiring decisions for permanent positions is to go temp-to-hire. These days temp-to-hire is ideally suited for those positions where there are plenty of candidates.

For professional or technical positions, however, you may realistically need to look at direct hire.  Professionals, for example in IT, are still scarce, and for any position where experience is required, you’re going to need to do some head hunting. In these kinds of positions anyone you’re going to want to hire is already working. Obviously, very few people will leave a permanent job for a temp-to-hire.

Because we are in somewhat uncharted economic waters, it’s easy to sidetrack yourself with questions that used to make sense but aren’t worth over-thinking in today’s realities.

One of the big sidetracks we see is undue concern over a candidate’s work history. A few years ago someone with long gaps in employment was cause for concern. Today as you look at resumes it’s often better to focus on: “Will this person be able to do what I need done with minimal training?”

You can save your doubts about work history for the interview. How a candidate handles those kinds of questions not only tells you about the specifics but also how the candidate feels about himself, his circumstances and his attitude toward his previous employer.

The bottom line: These days gaps are not disqualifiers, at least at the resume level.

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Jim Mahoney writes a blog for Bolt Staffing with locations in Sonoma and American Canyon. He can be contacted at 707-552-7800 or gooodpeople@boltstaffing.com.